March 13-- SEATTLE-Now that the tributes have been written, the praises have been sung and all the fond memories have been revisited-it's time for Seahawks fans to do something once inconceivable: root like hell against Richard Sherman.
He is now Public Enemy No.25. Not necessarily because he's a traitor, but because when it comes to his former team, he is a hater.
There are no two games Sherman is anticipating more than the ones vs. the Seahawks next season. He is a machine that runs on pride, and few things would satisfy him more than taking down the team that cast doubt on whether he can be his former elite self.
Considering Sherman gave Seattle a chance to match the contract the 49ers offered, this isn't exactly a case of sports treason. But now that he's gone, rest assured-he wants to hurt the Hawks. And he very well could.
Sherman took a gamble when he signed his incentive-heavy deal, but Seahawks general manager John Schneider gambled by releasing him, too. Had Seattle matched the 49ers' deal, it could have locked up a potential All-Pro for under market value.
Right now, only $3 million of that potentially $39 million deal is guaranteed. And if Sherman rediscovers the form that made him the most statistically dominant cornerback in the NFL since 2011, all of those incentives will have been worth it.
We really don't know how Sherman will bounce back from the Achilles tendon tear that ended his season last year. It's a 50/50 injury that crippled Kobe Bryant but failed to faze Terrell Suggs.
In a San Diego Union Tribune column earlier this month, former Chargers doctor David Chao wrote that he thinks Sherman will be 100 percent before the start of the season, and that preventive surgery on his other Achilles will actually increase his value, as it mitigates the odds of a future rupture.
But who really knows for sure.
It's also worth pointing out that Sherman never thrived because of his speed.
What has made him so menacing in quarterbacks' eyes is his length, intelligence and unparalleled ballhawking skills. So, yes, Sherman is going to be 30 later this month, but those aforementioned skills don't evaporate with age.
So what should Seahawks fans be feeling? Quite a bit of anxiety.
Despite their inconsistency the past couple of seasons, the Seahawks aren't necessarily done. Russell Wilson has emerged as an elite quarterback. Earl Thomas might still be the best safety in the game, Bobby Wagner may be the best linebacker, K.J. Wright is a Pro Bowler, and cornerback Shaquill Griffin had a strong rookie season.
Yes, the pass rush has disappeared, and the offensive line is incessantly questionable. But remember, had Blair Walsh made a few very makeable field goals last year, this team could have been 12-4.
In other words, had Sherman stuck around and been great, the Seahawks would have been capable of another playoff run. And now, he has the power to knock the Seahawks out of the playoffs.
Everyone in this town knows the impact a great play from a cornerback can have. Sherman sent Seattle to the Super Bowl with his tip against the 49ers, and has stifled aerial attacks throughout his career.
And if he is his former shutdown self, he'll be particularly aggravating to the Seahawks, who have come to rely on throwing the ball. There's little indication that Wilson will have a reliable running back to lighten his workload. He'll probably have to air it out vs. the Niners, and you can bet Sherman is already fantasizing about this.
So to the 12s, this one's easy: Root against Sherman like you've never rooted before. His success in the two games vs. Seattle could bump the Seahawks from the postseason. His success in the other 14 games would mean Schneider goofed by releasing him.
So love Sherman for everything he has done for the Seahawks and this city. But hate him once he steps on that field.
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